Anne-Marie Slaughter, is the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. She is presently on leave, serving as Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State. She was Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University from 2002-2009.
Slaughter came to the Wilson School from Harvard Law School where she was the J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law and Director of the International Legal Studies Program. She is also the former President of the American Society of International Law, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has served on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Drawing from this rich interdisciplinary expertise, Slaughter has written and taught broadly on global governance, international criminal law, and American foreign policy. Her most recent book is The Idea that Is America: Keeping Faith with Our Values in a Dangerous World, published in 2007 by Basic Books. She is also the author of A New World Order, in which she identified transnational networks of government officials as an increasingly important component of global governance. Slaughter has been a frequent commentator on foreign affairs in newspapers, radio, and television. She was also the convener and academic co-chair of the Princeton Project on National Security, a multi-year research project aimed at developing a new, bipartisan national security strategy for the United States, and was a member of the National War Powers Commission.
Slaughter: I think Obama is absolutely right to say I’ll talk to anyone, and as he said, he doesn’t mean that he’s going to [IB]. As he said, he doesn’t mean he’s going to parachute into a [capital] and drop in for tea. Of course, he’s going to have a visit prepared, but he understands that that projects strength rather than weakness. He understands that a really secure nation is not afraid to talk to people and is not absolutely focused on shutting other people out and not being willing to, at least, listen to their point of view even if it’s a criminal regime, we get more in terms of the way the world sees us from hearing their point of view, from being willing to have that conversation. And then, if what they say or how they say it is palpably aggressive or crazy, then we’ve taken the right step and we can say to the rest of the world, “Hey, we tried, we listened. This is not a regime that can be reasoned with.” That is how a strong leader acts. That’s true in my view whether you’re the head of a school or the head of a corporation or the head of a country and Obama gets that. So, I think that’s in that sense direct diplomacy makes a lot of sense. He also, though, has to be engaged in much more direct diplomacy with our allies and with our partners in different areas. The basic rule of persuasion is you have to be willing to be persuaded to be able to persuade others. If you come in and say, “Look, I’m going to persuade you. I’m not going to listen to what you have to say. You have to listen to what I’m going to say.” It doesn’t work. It’s a basic psychology. It’s a basic tactic of negotiation. You have to be really willing to listen and to change your own mind if you hope to change others, and we have not engaged in that kind of conversation with countries around the world, even when we say, you know, we’re going to engage, we’re going to consult. Consulting is meant we go. We tell other nations what we’ve decided to do and we say we hope you’re with us. We need to be actually listening, working on what might be a common solution, changing our views, letting other nations take the lead where it’s their region and they have a direct stake telling them, well, you go ahead. We’ll back you up, but you can shape the policy here. We want to be informed. It’s a different kind of leadership. It’s a much more strategic view of leadership, and frankly, it’s a view of leadership that is essential given how much we’ve got on our plate.